Broadband speed has long been a key factor in Rural Solutions model for appraising the viability of a rural business centre site. It is easy to see that in today’s digital economy broadband access is critical to the success of almost all rural businesses.
However, as many of Rural Solutions clients are aware access to a broadband connection is far from a ‘given’ in rural areas of the UK. A recent CLA study has indicated that up to a fifth of people living in rural areas still do not have adequate broadband services while a Capital Economics report suggests that around 1 in 10 of the population do not have access to a meaningful fixed line broadband service.
Historically the approach to addressing this negative impact on rural business development has been addressed by petitioning operators to provide broadband coverage in remote areas or by entrepreneurial rural communities providing their own connections such as the Elvanfoot Development Project in Lanarkshire.
Rural Solutions research has however indicated that there may be a new way of solving the problem.
Over the next 3-4 years the mobile telephone 4G programme will be rolled out across the UK. This upgrade will enable mobile network providers to provide internet connectivity on a par with fibre optic broadband.
While a mobile telephone connection in rural areas is not a ‘given’ a recent Capital Economic Study has found that part of the estimated £5.5 billion investment in the 4G network will substantially increase mobile coverage in rural areas. It is expected that 4G coverage will offer access to communities outside of BT’s ‘land line’ broadband network and it has been calculated that up to 5% of the UK’s population may have new access to broadband.
Rural Solutions team anticipate that the increased accessibility of broadband and mobile telecommunications from the introduction of the 4G programme will significantly increase the business development potential of under-utilised buildings in rural areas; generating a valuable new opportunity for rural land owners.
If you would like to speak with the Rural Solutions Advisory team regarding a rural business development opportunity please call Ralph Foljambe or Kate Paterson on 0845 302 4766.